There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered.
The glorious work of Tyrus Wong is unparalleled. It was his lush pastels that served as the driving force behind Bambi, where he was the lead artist on the film. Prior to Wong’s contributions, the logistics of managing the detailed nuance of a forest setting (millions of leaves!) was posing a problem, but Wong’s gorgeous, inventive minimalist approach was the perfect solution and provides the film its unique style and warm, textured feel.
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s wacky piano is heard for the first time, after 500 years:
A bizarre instrument combining a piano and cello has finally been played to an audience more than 500 years after it was dreamt up Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance genius who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the ‘‘viola organista’’ - which looks like a baby grand piano – but never built it, experts say.
The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans.
Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.
‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
The instrument’s exterior is painted in a rich midnight blue, adorned with golden swirls painted on the side. The inside of its lid is a deep raspberry inscribed with a Latin quote in gold leaf by 12th-century German nun, mystic and philosopher, Saint Hildegard.
‘‘Holy prophets and scholars immersed in the sea of arts both human and divine, dreamt up a multitude of instruments to delight the soul,’’ it says.
The flat bed of its interior is lined with golden spruce. Sixty-one gleaming steel strings run across it, similar to the inside of a baby grand.
Each is connected to the keyboard, complete with smaller black keys for sharp and flat notes. But unlike a piano, it has no hammered dulcimers. Instead, there are four spinning wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair, like violin bows.
To turn them, Zubrzycki pumps a pedal below the keyboard connected to a crankshaft. As he tinkles the keys, they press the strings down onto the wheels, emitting rich, sonorous tones reminiscent of a cello, an organ and even an accordion.
The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.
A sketch and notes in da Vinci’s characteristic inverted script is found in his Codex Atlanticus, a 12-volume collection of his manuscripts and designs for everything from weaponry to flight.
‘‘I have no idea what Leonardo da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased,’’ said Zubrzycki, who spend three years and 5000 hours bringing da Vinci’s creation to life.
I would rather die of passion than of boredom.
The Perseids Meteor Shower, Snowy Range, Wyoming, 2012
“For the 2012 Perseids meteor shower I knew I wanted to create a unique nightscape, to achieve this I needed dark skies free of light pollution and a moonlit landscape in the perfect orientation with the constellation Perseus. After many hours of scouting I found my location in South central Wyoming in the Medicine Bow National Forest, an area known as ‘Snowy Range’. The skies in this area were some of the darkest I have seen in my lifetime, the stars shined with a brightness that is indescribable, and the milky way clearly visible to the naked eye. I set up my Nikon D700 to capture 30 second exposures at ISO 3200 with an aperture of f2.8 on my Rokinon 14mm lens just as twilight was fading away. I spent the next 7 hours taking continuous photos until the sun rose. I captured 22 meteorites and an iridium flare, in Photoshop I overlaid all of the shots with meteors, rotated them based on Polaris to correct their orientation as Perseus moved through the night, then masked out everything except the meteors to reveal a stationary field of stars. To complete the composite I added one frame from sunrise to brighten areas of the foreground because the moonlight was blocked by a large group of trees for the entire night. An incredible night to not be forgotten.”